Not My Grandma’s Kurta



That look on my face you can classify as dumbfounded sadness.  It was brought on by something my photographer and boyfriend said.  That looks like a grandma dress.

Now, under certain circumstances I would actually take that as a compliment.  I’m a huge fan of the song Thrift Shop, which like many other patrons of Goodwill, I feel is my theme song.  And I also love vintage clothing.  While most of my clothing is not actually vintage, which around here is code for overpriced and faded, I make a lot of vintage inspired clothing and I am very happy to get my grandmother and even my mother’s hand me downs.

But, alas, he did not mean it in the Macklemore way.  He meant it in the, that’s a dress old women wear after they have many children and gain lots of weight way.  I’m not over exaggerating this, that’s pretty much what he said.

Now, while I know the dress is many times too large, and I wasn’t putting it on intending to wear it out on the town, but that is never something you want your boyfriend to say.  As my lab manager would put it, sometimes boys just ain’t smart.

So all I was left to do was to fix the dress so that it was no longer a grandma dress, either in a bad way or a good way.  Now that’s a girl being smart.

So the first thing I did was to try to figure exactly how big it was at the sides by just pulling the fabric so that it was tight to my body while I wore it, at that width I put in a pin.  I used that pin as a guide to make another seam.


I’m calling it another seam, instead of darts, because at the widest point I was cutting out about 2 inches of fabric.  If I tried to just take that much out at the sides, it would make the bodice gappy so I needed to extend the ‘dart’ around under the armhole and take a little out of the sleeve as well.

When you sew in these seams, you’re always going to want to work from the widest point to the smallest, that’s how you get a very sharp seam that doesn’t wrinkle.  Generally this means starting at the bottom and sewing up, but in this case, that means starting at the armhole and working down.

So that worked pretty well, but it still was a little too big.  I had expected this though since I always try to be conservative with how much fabric I take out, I can always take out more but it’s hard to add fabric back after you’ve cut it away.


This time I actually made a kind of dart, since it fit well across my bust.  What I’ve done here is take it in even father at the waist, but as a kind of half circle that meets back with my previous stitching.  If you think about this dart in the terms of a circle, the goal is to make it as long as possible while getting the necessary width.  Maximizing that length for width is what keeps you from having the corseted waist look, unless you were going for that.

Now that I’ve got all the stitches in, I’ve got a lot of unnecessary fabric on the inside of this garment, which actually bunches up rather uncomfortably under my arms.  But never fear, scissors are here.

Unless you feel you’re going to be gaining a lot of weight soon, and who really wants to bank on that, I would suggest cutting away most of that extra fabric to make it lay better.

After about an hour or two of pinning, sewing, trying on, and occasionally ripping out seams when I had accidentally made it too small, I finally had my new and improved, no longer grandma dress.


Eat that grandma dress.


5 responses »

    • That’s so cool! In India it’s traditional attire like the Sari and called a Kurta. I love it when fashions can be found in different cultures. And I really like them myself because a lot of times their made out of really bright and colorful clothing.

  1. I am incredibly envious of your sewing abilities! You really turned that kurta into something beautiful! I have a ton of salwar sets, sari blouses and kurtas that need to be taken in…and I don’t sew. I’ll be hauling them to India with me so the tailor can fix them!

  2. Very nice dress, I love the colour! One comment though, and this is purely just my semantic nit-pickyness on my part, this dress has no darts. All your alterations were simply changing the side seam to give it shape. A dart either starts or ends (or both) away from a seam. Seam:joins two pieces of fabric together. Dart: a line of stitching to put shaping into a single piece of fabric.
    Sorry to get sewing nazi on ya! lol

    • It’s alright, I’d rather have my terminology corrected than be perpetually wrong. The reason I was calling them darts is because of the shape. I know it’s just adjusting the side seam, but since it’s not a straight seam, and it does have an angle to it, that was why I was calling them darts. I didn’t realize the technical definition of a dart was only in one piece of fabric, I’ll keep that in mind in the future.

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